Monday, January 16, 2012

Reflections on Minstry: Birthday Parties at the Juvenile Detention Center

Cindy, one of our newest friends at Christ Church Cathedral, shares this experience of helping out with one of the Cathedral's many ministries ... birthday parties at the juvenile detention center with Episcopal City Mission.

On Jan 6, I attended the birthday party at the juvenile center, and I just wanted to communicate how much I enjoyed my experience. I am new to St Louis, and I heard of the program at a Sunday service. It caught my ear. I came from a family in which birthday's were recognized and it was a day of feeling very special. I thought of the bday kids in the center who were feeling very low. Maybe some came from a strong home, but I really doubt it. I figured that most were not feeling very special.

My boyfriend and I arrived at the center and was warmly greeted by Dannie. He even stood outside waiting for people to arrive. What a pleasant group of people that had gathered. Dannie stated that he had been doing this program for 10 yrs. He certainly will be rewarded for his effort.

We were told that in the City of St Louis center that we really were not allowed to mingle, sit, and talk with the kids. As we met the kids, the kids and adults just stared at one another. The kid's clothes were color coded. The oldest in red, seems a bit aloof. The younger kids in blue giggled and seemed excited. As the kids shared their treat basket, you could see more smiles and everyone relaxing. I was actually shocked to see how most kids were quiet and attentive to their Bingo Cards. With delight, they would shout out "Bingo", and sport big smiles came when they selected their prize.....and even multiple quiet thanks were whispered to me as they reached into the gift basket. A sad thing that I witnessed; a kid shouted Bingo and seemed very excited. It turns out that he didn't really have one and got no prize. He quit playing thereafter. I am sure that that is how he handles most failures in his life. Other kids had the same let down, and yet, tried again. There were only 3 girls, and one had a birthday. After she shyly listened to us sing "Happy Birthday", she received a big bag of goodies, and squealed at something that she saw inside. In that moment, I knew that she must have felt special.

As we left, we all walked out together to our cars. I felt safe the entire night. I slept well that night, remembering the smiles and joyful energy, and knew that we had done something good that night.

Sincerely, Cindy

If you're interested in find out more or getting involved in our birthday parties at the juvenile detention center, contact Dannie Franklin at dannie.franklin (at)

If you're interested in learning more about Episcopal City Mission, the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri's ministry with youth in detention, go to

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